Topic: Environment

Current Event November 7, 2018

Why Mexico City Is Sinking

Environment Human Impacts conservation

Mexico City faces a water shortage because an underground aquifer that stores water is being drained faster than it is being replenished. In addition, the imbalanced drainage of the aquifer is causing the city to sink, leading to all sorts of other issues. Listen to this story to learn about the problems this major metropolis is facing because of high demand on its underground water supply.

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Current Event November 6, 2018

Yosemite Experiences Rush Hour Traffic

Environment Animals Human Impacts

Traffic, usually considered an urban problem, has been an issue at Yosemite National Park for a long time. While the park is sometimes shut down to all traffic because of forest fires, when it reopens, hundreds of cars come back to enjoy the majestic natural beauty of the park. Figuring out a solution to this problem has become even more important recently with an increase in bear deaths in the park. Listen to hear about how traffic jams in this popular national park are affecting the wildlife there as well as visitors’ experiences.

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Current Event November 2, 2018

Debate: Should farmers be allowed to use a powerful weed killer?

Technology Environment Agriculture

A popular, powerful weed killer has been banned in Arkansas, but some farmers are still using it. The herbicide intended for weeds also harms crops and wildlife. Although some farmers are planting new varieties of soybeans and cotton that are resistant to the weed killer, others are not. When farmers with the resistant crops spray the weed killer, it impacts their neighbors’ farms, often with dire consequences. Listen to hear about the battle in Arkansas among neighboring farmers, and then debate: Should farmers be allowed to use a powerful weed killer?

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Current Event October 24, 2018

UN Report Warns about Climate Change

Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts

A recent report by a United Nations panel indicates that if we do not take action immediately to lessen the impact of global climate change, the negative consequences will be severe. A professor who worked on the report explains that global warming is already influencing our lives and the ecosystems that surround us. Listen to hear more about the rapid pace of climate change and what we can do to decrease the potential for disaster associated with it.

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Current Event September 20, 2018

Creating Urban Habitats for Monarch Butterflies

Life Science Environment Elementary Ecosystems

Monarch butterflies are in danger. In addition to their beauty, monarchs contribute to the ecosystem by pollinating wildflowers and by providing food for birds, small mammals, and insects. However, Monarch caterpillars depend on the milkweed plant for food and there are fewer and fewer milkweeds for them to eat. Listen to hear what conservation scientists recommend as a solution to this problem that many people can help to put into action.

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Current Event September 13, 2018

One Square Inch of Silence

Environment Human Impacts Ecology

Places without any human-made sound are rapidly disappearing. The “One Square Inch of Silence” project aims to preserve one such place in the Hoh River Valley, located in Washington’s Olympic National Park. Listen to a sound specialist guide a trek into the rainforest to experience natural silence.

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Current Event May 3, 2018

Offshore Wind Energy and Fishermen

Environment

Offshore wind can be a big business, and property that is windy with shallow water is perfect for installing and maintaining wind turbines. The federal government has leased sites for developers to build industrial-scale wind farms over the next decade. The area of New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is close to Rhode Island and New York, is an area with a sustainable wind source. The developers are very engaged with fishermen in the area, since the spinning blades confuse the instruments they use to navigate through fog. By working together, turbines can be put in locations that won’t interfere with fishermen’s routes. Listen to hear more about offshore wind projects in this area.

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Current Event May 1, 2018

Gold Mining in California Today

Politics Environment

The rules for mining on public land, which have been around since the 1870s, were used by miners during the Gold Rush. Since then the mining law has not changed. The law doesn’t require mining companies to pay royalties for mining on federal land. Some lawmakers object to the law and say the government is losing out. They’ve sponsored a new bill, but it hasn’t passed. Meanwhile, President Trump has opened more public land to mining in California and Utah. Listen to hear about mining rights on public land.

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Current Event March 21, 2018

Convenience Economy Clutters Up China

Environment China Asia

The demand for convenience is creating problems on sidewalks in China, especially in its largest cities. Shared bikes and food delivery on scooters are causing clutter and congestion on sidewalks. In Shanghai, a city of 24 million people, shared bikes are left on the sidewalk, piled on top of each other. Food delivery scooters have no dedicated lanes in the street, so they speed through pedestrians on the sidewalk trying to make deliveries on time. With such limited walking space left on the sidewalk, people sometimes walk in the road which is dangerous. Listen to hear more about the problems the convenience economy has created in China.

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Current Event January 9, 2018

Wet Wipes Clogging the Sewers Leads to a Court Battle

Environment Law KERA

Wet wipes began as baby products, but now people use them for many things including makeup removal and applying insect repellent. As more people find uses for disposable wet wipes, more of them end up in the toilet. However, even if the company says they are flushable, they aren't always. Wet wipes are causing blockages in sewer systems around the country. Companies that label their wipes as flushable are suing states that have created standards for flushability. Listen to learn where your wet wipes go and how wastewater plants are using a form of forensics to uncover which companies are clogging up the pipes.

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Current Event October 25, 2017

Electronic Waste Created by Outdated Cell Phones

Technology Environment

Most people want to buy new phones with the latest technology, but new devices lead to electronic waste, or e-waste, when old phones are discarded. Phone companies used to offer free phones with contracts, which meant people got new phones every two years. Now contracts are changing and there are new ways people are thinking about phones. One way is the modular approach, where the components are detachable and replaceable. Another is to create longer-lasting phones that are better for the environment. Listen to this story about how new technology can help eliminate electronic waste.

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Current Event September 21, 2017

Why We're Not So Great at Recycling

Education Environment

More and more trash is being recycled instead of going into a landfill, but we are not very good at sorting out what is not recyclable. There are 400-500 tons of recycling that come into one facility in Rhode Island each day. In the pre-sort area, workers stand at the conveyor belt and remove anything that isn’t recyclable, especially items that will get tangled in the machinery. Some people are still confused about what can be recycled, such as plastic bags or kitchen knives. Listen to this story to hear about the types of trash at a recycling facility and the steps workers and agencies are taking to solve this problem.

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Current Event May 2, 2017

Mountain Lion Kitten

Life Science Environment Animals

A female baby mountain lion has been found in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Mountain lions in the recreation area are very isolated as the park is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, agricultural fields, and greater Los Angeles. Therefore, scientists believe that the baby mountain lion is likely a product of inbreeding among related lions with limited mating choices. This could lead to genetic defects and abnormalities in the mountain lions. Listen to learn more about the newborn mountain lion and the concerns about mountain lion inbreeding.

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ELA

Waterless Worlds is the New Dystopia

Environment Literature Climate Change Dystopian Fiction

News about water shortages and droughts have inspired a new trend in dystopian books and movies. Water scarcity has been a source of conflict in places like Africa and the Middle East but also in America’s own history. Some believe that water scarcity is only going to get worse in the decades to come. This audio story features writers and filmmakers who have imagined what life might be like in a waterless world. Listen to learn more about what these storytellers imagine and what audience they hope to reach.

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Current Event April 13, 2017

Clash on Climate Change Beliefs within a Family

Politics Environment Climate Change Economy

Southwestern Pennsylvania is coal country, though most of the mining and steel jobs are long gone. A reporter talked with a father and daughter who have very different outlooks on life. The father is skeptical about climate change. His daughter is in college with plans to be an engineer and work on environmental issues. Their first conversation about climate change happened a year ago and was revisited recently. Listen to hear the common ground and differences in opinion between this father and daughter.

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Current Event April 12, 2017

The Challenges of Creating a Recyclable K-Cup

Environment

Vermont-based Keurig Green Mountain, a coffee company, makes K-cup pods for single coffee servings. They are now trying to solve the problem of the waste created by these pods. The hot beverage machines are so popular they have created a recycling problem because there are now billions of used plastic cups that are not recyclable. Keurig has pledged to make all K-Cups recyclable by 2020, which is a big challenge. Once a recyclable material is found for the cups, there is also the issue of sorting them at recycling facilities. Listen to hear more about the challenges of meeting this promise to recycle K-Cups.

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Current Event March 30, 2017

The Footprint of a Loaf of Bread

Environment Human Impacts Agriculture

Researchers have completed a study that documents the environmental impact of producing a loaf of bread. They determined the amount of greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of bread production—from wheat farming to transportation—and added up the total. They found that 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gases are emitted each year in the U.K. as a result of bread production. The study’s authors hope the findings will lead to more efficient and sustainable production methods. Listen to learn more about the environmental footprint of a loaf of bread and how consumers can help make a difference.

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Current Event February 23, 2017

Wind Power on Forest Land

Environment

The very first commercial wind project on U.S. Forest Service land will locate 15 turbines on government land in southern Vermont by the end of 2017. This project sets a precedent since it's the first agreement in the country between wind developers and the forest service. Some support the turbines saying the project will bring jobs and save money, and some oppose the project. Protesters say this is public land and shouldn’t be developed because it will hurt wildlife. Listen to hear more about this project and what is being done to protect the land.

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Current Event February 8, 2017

Keystone and Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Get Green Light

Politics Economics Environment

Environmentalists are taking a strong stance against President Trump’s executive order to revive two controversial oil pipelines—Keystone XL and Dakota Access. Several environmental groups have vowed to fight these pipelines in the courts and the streets if they are moving ahead. In addition, there are still hundreds of indigenous protestors at the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota who are committed to blocking construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Backers of the projects say we need pipelines to transport oil more safely and efficiently. Listen to learn more about Trump’s plans to expedite pipeline construction and the groups working to block these projects.

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Current Event January 10, 2017

Air Pollution in France Leads to Temporary Ban on Sports

Environment Weather and Climate Human Impacts

A week of high pollution levels in Paris has brought strict restrictions on driving. The Paris mayor is making public transportation free in an effort to reduce the pollution particles in the air. There are also health concerns if people breathe this air for more than an hour, so some school sports and outdoor activities were banned temporarily. Listen to hear more about how Paris is managing this pollution crisis.

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